Media freedom unprecedented in Pakistan; problem is with fake news: PM

ISLAMABAD, Sep 24 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said the media in Pakistan enjoyed an unprecedented freedom but the government had the problem only with the fake news or propaganda.

“I challenge, no government in the history allowed media to act so freely? I guarantee, almost 70% of total TV programs during last three years were against the government. I guarantee, 70% news items with angling were against us,” the prime minister said.

Addressing the launching ceremony of Prime Minister’s Digital Media Development Program, the prime minister said he had never seen such a slander against a prime minister or minister, not even in the western democracies.

Minster for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, State Minister Farrukh Habib, Special Assistant to PM Dr Shahbaz Gill, Senator Faisal Javed were among the prominent participants besides the newly selected internees.

The prime minister said the free media or free judiciary should not be a matter of concern for the incumbent government, if it was not involved in corruption or violation of rules. It was the dictators or the corrupt governments which controlled media and judiciary for their protection, he added.

He said even three major dailies of Pakistan, in their headlines, had alleged that the nomination of Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s prime minister was made on the basis of some sort of astrological table.

“Just imagine what could be a slander bigger than that? I would have got damages in millions had this happened in England which I would have given to my charity,” he remarked.

The prime minister urged the internees to never compromise their credibility as the fake news had a limited life and gets discredited within short span of time. He said the state media in the past was used as propaganda tool but the youth should improve their credibility through new researches and ideas.

He also urged them to highlight Pakistan’s true vision of an Islamic welfare state which should feature self-respect, humanity, rule of law and justice.

The government has already put the country on the very course as welfare programs under Ehsaas initiatives, universal health coverage, Panagas, low-income house and efforts to establish rule of law were among the measures being taken by the government.

He said the initiatives like universal health coverage was not available even in the developed countries as it would give Rs1 million health insurance cover to a family.

The prime minister said the youth had never got such opportunities like in the digital era where youngsters became billionaire even at age of 25.

Citing his success story during cricketing career, he said no individual could excel in life unless he realizes his potential, never gave up struggle and came up with new ideas.

Imran Khan also advised the youth to live a life to serve the humanity, as great leaders like Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Sufi saints, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Nelson Mandela were remembered yet only because they lived for humanity.

In his address, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said in 2018, the PTI’s media wing outperformed state media. The state media was reduced to act just a like a spokesperson of the ministry, instead of its core function to highlight state’s narrative.

He said the performance of state media organs including PTV and APP did not match with the huge budget, so the ministry decided their transformation pursuing the prime minister’s vision.

However, after the establishment of Digital Media Wing in 2020, the things were changed as Radio Pakistan’s mobile application was being recognized among the best Apps.

Mentioning his interview with Newsweek, and airing of his interview with Russian TV across 100 countries, he said the prime minister was taking far more media hours than the past.

He said business of digital media advertising had bloomed from Rs 4 billion in 2018 to Rs25 billion this year, and suggested it to be brought under tax net.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media Dr Arsalan Khalid said out of 4,000 applicants, 100 internees had been selected which would be imparted training in digital media advertising, content making, digital diplomacy, data analysis, combating fake news and SEO exercise.

The program has been designed by the Information ministry in coordination with the United Nations Development Program. Digital Media Wing has partnered with the world’s leading social media organizations and Digital Media industry experts to give workshops to the interns, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. With UNDP’s support, the students will also get monthly stipends upon successful completion of tasks.

Later, the internees would be placed at various universities where they would perform in their designated fields and receive certificate.

He said besides imparting training, the program would also enable the youths to explore bigger objectives to serve the country.